Pastor David Lah, a Canadian passport holder, is a controversial figure because of his polarizing views. (Photo: Facebook)
A controversial Christian pastor from Myanmar faces up to three years in prison after his release from a 21-day quarantine in Yangon. David Lah and three others were charged with defying a ban on large gatherings imposed to tackle the coronavirus pandemic on March 13. Under the 2013 natural disaster management law, a disaster caused by a negligent act or by willful action is punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years and may also be liable to a fine. The pastor claimed devout Christians were immune to Covid-19 before catching the disease himself in April. He was discharged from hospital on May 7 after tests showed negative two times, according to health officials.
After Lah’s neighbors objected to him being quarantined at home, he is being kept in a hotel in Yangon, the country’s commercial hub. Security was tightened around the hotel and legal action will proceed on his release from the quarantine period, according to media reports citing a Yangon social affairs minister. “It is not true that Lah left the hotel as we are closely watching him through beefing up security. We will proceed on the lawsuit against him,” the minister said. News spread on social media that Lah is among Canadian citizens who will be evacuated from Myanmar in late May. In a video clip that went viral in mid-April, Lah told worshipers that those who are really centered on Jesus will not be infected by Covid-19. Lah, a Canadian passport holder, is a controversial figure because of his polarizing views and has been widely criticized for his anti-LGBT and Islamophobic rhetoric. At least 71 people in Yangon have been linked to Lah’s church services in Insein and Mayangone townships. Christian leaders in Myanmar have appealed to citizens in the Buddhist-majority country to work together to fight Covid-19 in unity and love as anti-Christian sentiment surges on social media following the activities of the pastor. They also urged people not to post and share fake news, photos and videos on Facebook that may be offensive to religion. Some 12 Muslims from Mandalay, the second-largest city in Myanmar, who were gathered at a house for prayers have each been jailed for three months for defying the ban on public gatherings. In Tanintharyi region in southern Myanmar, authorities are seeking legal advice from the courts to file a lawsuit against organizers of a funeral of Buddhist monk that drew more than 200 attendees in early April. Myanmar has reported 180 cases of Covid-19 including six deaths and 76 recoveries, according to the latest data.
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